The Process of Medicalization

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Medicalization describes a process by which a non-medical problem becomes defined and treated as a medical problem, usually in terms of illness and disorders. Medicalization used to be focused on deviance, now it focuses on a range of human problems. Medicalization is increasing as technology advances. There are many things that have become medicalized such as Alcoholism, mental disorders, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, etc. There are three degrees of medicalization. 1. Fully medicalized, example would be severe mental illness. 2. Partly medicalized, example would be menopause. 3. Minimally medicalized, example would be sexual addiction. The factors that affect the degrees are the support of medical profession, available treatment, and medical insurance. In the end medicalization has increased the profitability and markets of pharmaceutical and biotechnological firms.

Many factors have contributed to the rise of medicalization. For instance the loss in religious, the increase of faith in science, rationality, progress, increased prestige and the power of the medical profession. The medical profession and the expansion of medical jurisdiction were prime movers for medicalization. Medicalization has also occurred through social movements. Doctors are not the only ones involved in medicalization now, patients are active collaborators in the medicalization of their problem. The Vietnam veteran movement medicalized PTSD; AIDS treatment was done by the gay and lesbian movement, and PSM with the woman’s movement.

There are both positive and negative consequences to medicalization. With everything being medicalized, some people have a better chance functioning well in society. If they are really shy, they will be diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder, and will be medicated to interact efficiently in society. People are no longer depressed, disoriented because of medical intervention, for example, menopause and anorexia. It can really improve the...
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